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How to Grow Arugula Microgreens at Home

How To Grow Arugula Microgreens (Complete Guide)

Arugula microgreens, also known as "rocket," are an elegant staple in the culinary world. Known for their peppery taste and unique aroma, they make a robust addition to any dish. But beyond the culinary landscape, the arugula microgreen is equally delightful to cultivate at home. Here's an overview of this charming microgreen.

Distinctive Flavor: Arugula microgreens have a unique, spicy flavor, a little less intense than their mature counterparts but definitely notable. This makes them a popular choice for adding a punch of taste to salads, sandwiches, and even as a garnish for meats and pastas.

Fast Growers: Among the pantheon of microgreens, arugula is known for its fast-growing nature. From seed to harvest, you'll often only wait 7 to 10 days. This short cycle makes it a favorite for those new to microgreen gardening or those wanting to see quick results.

Health Benefits: Arugula microgreens are packed with nutrients. They're a great source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. They also possess high levels of antioxidants, making them a healthy addition to any meal.

Easy to Grow: Arugula microgreens are a low-maintenance green, requiring minimal special care. As long as they're kept in a well-lit area and given regular watering, these microgreens will flourish.

Visual Appeal: Arugula microgreens possess a vibrant green hue that can brighten up any plate. The dainty, deeply-lobed leaves add a touch of elegance and make them visually distinctive from other microgreens.

With these unique qualities, arugula microgreens not only offer a rich, spicy flavor to a variety of dishes, but they also provide an easy and quick cultivation experience. They are an excellent choice for both novice gardeners wanting to dip their toes into the world of microgreens and culinary enthusiasts looking to add a gourmet touch to their meals.

How To Grow Arugula Microgreens

How To Grow Arugula Microgreens (Complete Guide)

Before diving into the cultivation of arugula microgreens, it's important to grasp some basic knowledge about these little plants.

1. Growth Cycle: Arugula microgreens typically germinate in 2-3 days, and within a week to 10 days, they're ready for harvesting. This quick turnaround time allows for multiple harvests in a short period.

2. Lighting: Arugula microgreens prefer a well-lit area. Natural sunlight is perfect, but if that's not available, a basic fluorescent or LED grow light will suffice.

3. Watering: Watering needs are relatively low for arugula microgreens. Consistent moisture is key, but be cautious not to overwater as this can lead to mold and fungus problems.

4. Temperature: These microgreens are relatively hardy and can grow in a wide range of temperatures, but they prefer cooler conditions, between 60-70°F (15-20°C).

Gathering the Necessary Materials

In order to successfully grow arugula microgreens at home, here are the materials you'll need:

1. Arugula Seeds: Arugula seeds are readily available at local garden centers, or you can order them online.

2. Growing Medium: A soilless growing medium, like coconut coir or a high-quality potting mix, is recommended for growing microgreens. They provide excellent water retention and make it easy for the tiny roots to establish themselves.

3. Growing Trays: You'll need shallow growing trays to plant your seeds. Some gardeners prefer trays with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

4. Spray Bottle: A spray bottle is necessary to mist the seeds daily, ensuring they receive adequate moisture.

5. Grow Lights (optional): If you don't have a bright, sunny window, you might need a fluorescent or LED grow light to provide the necessary light for your microgreens.

6. Harvesting Tools: A pair of clean, sharp scissors or a sharp knife will be necessary when it comes time to harvest your arugula microgreens.

With these materials in hand, you'll be well-equipped to start your journey into growing arugula microgreens at home.

Step 1. Prepare The Grow Tray

Begin with two 10 by 20-inch growing trays. One will sit beneath the other and be filled with water to hydrate the roots of your microgreens, while also preventing mold growth. To set this up, take the tray without drainage holes and fill it with coco coir. Smooth out the surface and then mist it thoroughly with a spray bottle. If a spray bottle is unavailable, lightly sprinkle water over the coco coir until it is well-hydrated. Do not add water to the lower tray yet. To create drainage holes in the top tray, use a sharp knife to carefully poke small holes.

Step 2. Add The Seeds

Arugula seeds do not need pre-soaking. Spread them evenly across the surface of the coco coir in the prepared tray. Aim for a uniform distribution to avoid overcrowding, which could lead to growth problems. Be careful not to scatter too many or too few seeds.

Step 3. Water And Cover The Seeds

After sowing, mist the seeds gently. Do not cover the seeds with additional soil. Instead, place another container on top to darken the environment for 2-3 days. This blackout phase is crucial for Arugula seeds, and adding some weight helps ensure the roots penetrate deeply into the soil, promoting straight and tall growth. Keep your tray in a location with a consistent temperature between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, an ideal range for germination. Continue to hydrate the seeds by misting them approximately every 10-12 hours.

Step 4. Uncover And Give Light

Around day 2 or 3, inspect your arugula seeds' growth. If they're germinating well, it's time to remove the cover and introduce light. Provide at least 12 hours of light daily to encourage healthy growth. A grow light is recommended to avoid the leaning that can occur when growing next to a window.

Step. 5 Check Daily

Maintain the lighting for 4 to 10 days, ensuring good airflow and low humidity in your growing area to ward off potential mold issues. From this point until harvest, your microgreens need a balanced hydration strategy. This is the time to start watering using the tray below, which will keep the leaves dry and further help to prevent mold.

Troubleshooting Common "Arugula" Microgreens Growing Challenges

Arugula microgreens, while generally easy to grow, can still present a few challenges. Here's how to tackle some common problems:

1. Slow or Uneven Germination:

If your arugula microgreens are germinating slowly or unevenly, it may be due to inconsistent moisture levels, incorrect temperature, or poor seed quality. Ensure your seeds are moist but not overly saturated and that they're kept at a steady temperature of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If issues persist, consider sourcing your seeds from a different supplier.

2. Mold:

Mold is often the result of poor ventilation or excessive humidity. It can also occur if you're watering from the top or if the seeds are overcrowded. To avoid mold, ensure your microgreens have good airflow, use the tray watering method, and keep the growing medium moist but not waterlogged.

3. Leggy Microgreens:

If your arugula microgreens are growing long and thin or are bending towards the light, they might not be getting enough light. Position your grow lights directly above the microgreens and keep them on for at least 12 hours a day. If you're using natural light, remember it may not be as intense as a grow light and additional lighting may be necessary.

4. Pale or Yellow Microgreens:

Lack of light can cause your arugula microgreens to appear pale or yellow. Providing sufficient light (12-16 hours per day) will promote chlorophyll production, leading to healthy, vibrant green microgreens.

5. Poor Flavor or Tough Texture:

The quality of your growing medium and water can affect the taste and texture of your microgreens. If you're unsatisfied with the flavor or texture, consider switching to high-quality organic soil and using filtered water.

Good hygiene, sufficient light, consistent moisture, and quality materials are key to successfully growing arugula microgreens. If problems arise, don’t get disheartened. Gardening is a process of learning and adapting, and with time, you'll be able to perfect your method.

How To Harvest Arugula Microgreens

How To Grow Arugula Microgreens (Complete Guide)

After 8 to 10 days, your arugula microgreens should be ready to harvest. To do so, wait at least 12 hours after watering and once they've reached approximately 2 inches in height. Using scissors, harvest the top one and a half inches of the shoots. Congratulations! You've now successfully grown arugula microgreens.

Washing and Drying Arugula Microgreens

Thoroughly rinse your harvested arugula microgreens under cold water using a colander. To dry them, spread them out on paper towels and let them air dry. To expedite the drying process, you may use a fan on a slow setting. Freshly cut microgreens are best consumed immediately after drying.

Storing Arugula Microgreens

You may be wondering how to store your harvested arugula microgreens. It's quite simple - just loosely place them in a bowl or container and store them in the refrigerator.

Culinary Uses For Arugula Microgreens

Arugula microgreens are treasured by food enthusiasts and chefs alike for their zesty, nutty flavor that brings a punch to many dishes. These microgreens can be incorporated into salads, soups, sandwiches, and even baked goods. For a healthy and flavorful boost, try juicing them and adding the extract to wheatgrass shots or smoothies.

Creative and Exciting Recipe Ideas with Arugula Microgreens

1. Arugula Microgreen Pesto

Arugula microgreens lend a peppery punch to traditional pesto. Blend them with fresh garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. This pesto is versatile and pairs wonderfully with pasta, roasted vegetables, or as a spread on artisanal bread.

2. Arugula Microgreen Smoothie

Start your day with a nutrition-packed smoothie by blending arugula microgreens with spinach, a frozen banana, a handful of mixed berries, and almond milk. Arugula adds a lively, peppery note that will wake up your tastebuds.

3. Arugula Microgreen Salad

Arugula microgreens are perfect for a fresh, vibrant salad. Toss them with thinly sliced radishes, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber. Dress the salad with a vinaigrette of lemon juice, honey, olive oil, salt, and pepper for a crisp and refreshing side dish.

4. Avocado Toast with Arugula Microgreens

Elevate your avocado toast by adding a generous handful of arugula microgreens. Mash ripe avocados and spread it on a slice of toasted sourdough, top it with arugula microgreens, and finish with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and crushed red pepper flakes for a hint of heat.

5. Arugula Microgreen Pizza

Arugula microgreens can also enhance the flavors of a homemade pizza. After baking your pizza with your favorite toppings, top it with a handful of arugula microgreens and a drizzle of olive oil for a gourmet touch.

These recipe ideas are just a starting point. Feel free to experiment with arugula microgreens in your cooking. Their distinctive flavor can add a new dimension to your favorite dishes.

Health Benefits of Arugula Microgreens

Arugula microgreens have plenty of cardiovascular, nervous, and digestive health benefits.

The list of health benefits includes the following:

1. Keep Your Eyes Healthy

Arugula contains lutein and zeaxanthin. Similar to their roles in plants, lutein and zeaxanthin act as protective antioxidants in the eye. These eye-protective nutrients undergo oxidation and a series of transformations to protect the macula. (1)